The youngest member of the congregation was baptized this morning.
It made for a big day.
One of the things church can do for people is be a place where they are greeted with smiles of recognition. There is more to baptism, of course, but one of the things it means is “you belong here.”
Sometimes we need a place where we belong, and where people treat us that way.
In our tradition, the members of the congregation promise to make that belonging real and effective. We ask:
Do we the congregation of [this church], as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture [this child] by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging him to know and follow Jesus Christ as a member of this Church? (We do.)
This Sunday, there was a special version of this question for the other children of the congregation:
Do you, as children of God, promise to help [this child]? Will you be his friends? Will you help him when he falls or gets hurt? Will you listen to him when he is happy and when he is sad? Will you show him how to behave by trying your best to be a good example? Will you talk with him about God, the Bible and Jesus Christ? (We will.)
This probably helped the adults think more concretely about what those promises of guidance and nurture by word and deed actually mean, quite honestly.
And the baptism liturgy can’t help but remind people of what baptism asserts, and affirms – what it is we believe we belong to, share, invite others to:
You are a beloved child of God. Live your life in the sure knowledge that you are claimed by God’s grace and wrapped in God’s love.